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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: May 23, 2019 04:36 PM
From: Senator Lawrence M. Farnese, Jr.
To: All Senate members
Subject: Grandparents Visitation
Its an unthinkable thing, losing a child, even if that child is an adult.

Pennsylvania has rightly taken grandparents rights very seriously, recognizing the crucial role grandparents play in nurturing and supporting children. Grandparents have authority to request visitation from the court if their ability to continue a relationship with their grandchild is impacted by a divorce, if they have provided a home to the child for a year or more and the parents have regained custody, or if their child has passed away.

Currently, in considering awarding grandparent’s visitation the court must only consider two factors, the amount of personal contact between the child and the party prior to the filing of the action and whether the award interferes with the parent-child relationship.

These factors are relevant and reasonable in considering whether to award visitation when the parents are in a dispute over custody, the parents had previously consented to the visitation, and the parents are in dispute about whether or not the grandparents should have visitation.

However, these factors are utterly insufficient when the parent being sued for visitation is a widow or widower and suddenly finds themselves a single parent. The resulting physical, emotional and economic hardship coupled with the trauma of losing a spouse and helping children cope with losing a parent is a unique set of circumstances exacerbated by court battles.

This was never the intent of this statute.

Therefore, I am authoring legislation to increase the factors which courts must consider in awarding visitation in this unique and difficult circumstance to consider the burden, inconvenience, or limitation placed on the surviving parent and the ability of the children to participate in school, extracurricular activities, and religious observances in complying with the terms of the visitation.

Introduced as SB781